Friday, July 12, 2013
Superintendents call for education overhaul despite Perry veto
Does STAAR do more damage than good?
Superintendents across Texas are searching for other options after legislation they felt was fundamental to transforming education was vetoed recently by Gov. Rick Perry.
HB 2836, authored by Rep. Bennett Ratliff (R-Coppell), would have reduced the number of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests taken by third- through eighth-graders, with a required waiver.
"Our elementary and middle school kids are over-tested as well," said Dr. Stephen Waddell, Lewisville ISD superintendent. "We got HB 5, but that didn't finish the work. Parents of elementary and middle school kids will want that brought back up."
Perry stated in a press release that HB 2836 would have countered the role of the State Board of Education (SBOE).
"The SBOE is responsible for developing the curriculum standards required to be taught in Texas schools," Perry stated. "House Bill 2836 has the potential to deemphasize the majority of these important curriculum standards in the classroom, and would also circumvent the responsibilities of the elected SBOE. The SBOE has initiated a process to streamline the scope of the curriculum standards required to be taught in classrooms, addressing concerns about the number of curriculum standards taught and assessed.
"Maintaining our rigorous standards is crucial to ensuring Texas students have the fundamental building blocks necessary to succeed in their education and ultimately compete in a global economy," Perry stated.
Dr. J.D. Kennedy, McKinney ISD superintendent, said he believes a strong curriculum could have existed with HB 2836.
"I believe in accountability and a challenging curriculum," Kennedy said. "But there is a need for an overhaul in our current system in both assessment and in the overall curriculum. There is a need to develop not only an improved accountability system, but also a need to replace the current Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills with measurable power learning standards that teach fewer skills with greater depth and complexity. This is the only way we can get learning to stick with our students."
Kennedy said he wishes the state would use assessment products developed by the state-funded ACT and SAT instead of the out-of-state-created STAAR, adding that ACT and SAT have a history of measuring college readiness.
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